We had two films release this past weekend with the potential for Oscar nominations.
Get On Up
After hitting it big with his 2011 film The Help, director Tate Taylor took time off before mounting his latest film covering the life of legendary soul singer James Brown. The rocky life of the noted singer could have propelled Taylor back into the Oscar race, but several factors would need to be in place before that happened.
The reason The Help ended up in the Oscar race was the immense popularity of the film. A box office smash, the film was liked, but not loved by critics, which wouldn’t typically have generated much interest with Oscar voters. However, a film based on an acclaimed novel about black women standing up for themselves in the American South propelled Taylor’s film forward to the Oscars.
Get On Up doesn’t have the literary background, nor does it have the immense popularity. While the film had an adequate debut, it’s hardly a juggernaut and unless the film plays well in subsequent weeks and becomes a behemoth, money isn’t going to be an impetus to recognize it. The film received reviews that were on-par with The Help, so it won’t get a lot of help from critics. There is one area the film might be able to triumph with: the acclaimed performance of Chadwick Boseman whose performance as James Brown has earned plenty of praise and the Academy does love its real life characters. Boaseman doesn’t have the cachet of Jamie Foxx, but after a well respected turn in 42, Boseman’s star might rise just high enough to peek into the Oscar race, but a win is unlikely.
Guardians of the Galaxy
Critics have fallen in love with James Gunn’s cheeky sci-fi superhero epic Guardians of the Galaxy giving it some of the best reviews of the year for a blockbuster. The Academy is reticent to honor the genre and if there’s a film more likely to appeal to Academy voters, it’s the politically-relevant Captain America: The Winter Soldier. That doesn’t however preclude Marvel Studios’ other 2014 outing without some chances.
Based on a series of comics about a ragtag team of space outlaws gallivanting around the galaxy trying to save it, Guardians of the Galaxy is the most visually intensive film in the new Marvel Cinematic Universe. While Thor and its sequel may have more visual effects, Guardians makes significantly better use of them, pulling the audience into a stunning universe with anthropomorphic raccoons and trees.
So far, Marvel has struggled to gain traction with Oscar voters outside of films that star Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man. Not a single Marvel film other than those four have managed to snag nominations. That is very likely to change with Guardians of the Galaxy, the film is certain to be a shortlist submission for Best Visual Effects while rating a mention with the Makeup & Hairstyling category is also possible. With Visual Effects, Guardians could also snag Sound Mixing and Sound Editing nominations. From there, its prospects are significantly reduced with Production Design the only other area where it could conceivably make an appearance.